That Galaxy S5 is tempting, but do you want to upgrade? If you’re stuck in a contract with your carrier, the time when you can upgrade may seem really far off. You could pay the early termination fee, but that’s an expense you probably don’t want. Even if you’re enrolled in a program like Jump from T-Mobile, the expense can still seem daunting. Is there a workaround — a way to make your phone more Galaxy S5-ish?
Nothing will make your device just like the Galaxy S5, but there are some things you can do which will make your current Android handset a bit more like an S5. With so many apps available to you, there’s a fix for just about any problem you might face — even the problem of not having an S5.
Instant Heart Rate
The Galaxy S5 has a pretty handy built-in heart rate monitor on the back, right next to the camera. Sounds a bit goofy, but it’s actually fairly useful for those who need to monitor their health a bit closer than the average person. Athletes or those with health issues will find the feature almost necessary, and having a phone with it built right in is nifty, if nothing else.
You, however, aren’t getting a Galaxy S5 any time soon, so we suggest Instant Heart Rate. After placing your finger over the lens of your device camera, the app keeps track of the color changes in your skin (blood flow, you know). From there, it attempts to give you an idea of how healthy you are — or aren’t.
We’d have to say this one is a pretty good substitute, too. It wasn’t quite as accurate as the S5, but it got pretty close each time we compared the app to the Samsung flagship hardware. All told, this one is a pretty good workaround.
The Galaxy S5 has a battery saving mode that lets you turn on or off the apps and services you want. In giving you a bit more control over your device, the S5 aims to take full advantage of the massive battery which lies under the band-aid rear cover.
Go Power is an app that accomplishes the same feats as the Galaxy S5’s TouchWiz power saving mode. Giving you almost free reign to throttle down your services, Go Power is an app we think you’ll find useful. It keeps a power meter in your notification bar, too, along with quick access to those settings which are toggled most often. You also get a quick way to get to more control — all from within the notification bar.
IR Universal Remote
The Galaxy S5 acts like a TV remote — yeah, seriously. Smart Remote on the Galaxy S5 can control your TV, DVR, Stereo — you name it. If it’s in your living room, Samsung wants to be in charge. You still want to be in charge, though, don’t you?
Don’t worry, there are several apps on the Play Store that can help. The best overall is IR Universal Remote, which offers up a pretty basic remote interface. The beneficial part to IR Remote is the amount of hardware the app has saved. Spanning cable providers, BluRay players, and TV manufacturers, IR Universal Remote probably has you covered. You’ll need an IR blaster on your phone, though, so be sure to check your specs before taking advantage of this one.
Aside from keeping track of your heart rate, the Galaxy S5 also counts your steps — and does a pretty good job of it, too. By tapping into the sensors on the device, Samsung aims to keep you notified of how many steps you’re taking — or maybe not taking. Fortunately for you, your Android handset probably has the same sensors; you just need some software.
We like Runtastic’s Pedometer app here because it does a good job of tracking more than the steps you take, or the distance you travel. Runtastic also keeps track of the speed you traveled, as well as the distance. Though it won’t automatically track your steps like the Galaxy S5 can, it offers up a bit more info than S Health. If decide to drop a few bucks and go Pro, Pedometer will also let you know how many calories you burned, as well as the frequency of your steps.
There is a setting in the Galaxy S5 called “Toolbox” that brings up five of the more useful features we use daily, like the browser or camera. It’s a bit like chatheads, floating around and letting you put it where it’s most convenient. You can even edit the content as you like, but five apps seems a bit limiting.
If you want to go into full-on beast mode, we suggest a launcher — Sidebar launcher, to be precise. The launcher doesn’t take over your device as some others can, but adds a layer of context to your Android experience. It hides until you swipe to bring it out, but offers up a lot more than five apps. You can get to your settings, shortcuts, favorite apps, and even see your emory usage, all from within the launcher.
Will your phone ever be just like a Galaxy S5? Nope. Happily, there are several Android apps in each category that can satisfy your wants and desires for some of the most touted features of it though. We’ve picked our favorites, and even tried them out on several devices to much success. Best of all, everything we listed is free, so you’re not coming out of pocket unless you want to.
This should also cement that even though an OEM like Samsung will make a grand production about their new, cobbled-together features, if they’re software-based, it doesn’t make them exclusive. The apps we’ve shown you here today prove that what you want can often be duplicated with apps on the device you already have. Remember the old addage “there’s an app for that”? It’s often very much true!
These are five of our favorites, but what about you? If you have an app you like that gets your older Android phone feeling a bit more like a Galaxy S5, let us know about it in the comments section below!